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San Francisco Visitor Industry Statistics

We love crunching numbers. That's why we've gone to great lengths and enlisted some of the brightest minds in the industry to help us understand where we're at, and where we need to be. Frequent findings and extensive research studies are included as a benefit of partnership and come included in several of our partnership packages.


San Francisco hosted 16.5 million visitors in 2012, including hotel guests, those staying with friends and relatives, those staying in accommodations outside the city but whose primary destination was San Francisco, and regional visitors driving in for the day. Visitor spending reached the highest ever in 2012, with more than $8.93 billion spent in local businesses (up 5.5 percent from 2011). This means during an average day in San Francisco, 131,128 visitors are spending $24.46 million.

This massive injection of visitor dollars directly supports local hotels, restaurants, shops, attractions, and cultural institutions. It also indirectly bolsters practically every segment of the city's economy and has a broad positive influence on government finances — some $562 million in tax and fee revenue flowed into the City and County of San Francisco in 2012, up 6.7 percent from the previous year.

San Francisco's top 10 feeder markets include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Seattle, San Diego, Portland, Sacramento and San Francisco Bay Area (outside of San Francisco).

The Importance of Tourism

According to Destination Analysts, Inc. San Francisco Resident Survey, the number of jobs supported by tourism rose 3.6 percent in 2012, totaling 74,000 jobs with an annual payroll of $2.18 billion (up 6.2 percent from 2011). In addition, 53 percent of residents believe tourism is San Francisco's most important industy, and 98 percent believe tourism is very important or important to the vitality of San Francisco's economy. 82 percent of residents disagree that "San Francisco has too many tourists" and 78 percent believe tourism makes San Francisco a better place to live.

San Francisco Travel Efforts

As the window to the City by the Bay, the San Francisco Travel Association works to enhance the local economy by marketing San Francisco and the Bay Area as the premier destination for conventions, meetings, events and leisure travel. This mission drives initiatives which help us reach milestones including:

  • 4.8+ million website visitors annually on
  • 550,000+ Facebook fans, 100,000+ Twitter followers, 28,500+ Instagram followers
  • More than 184 million media impressions worldwide, representing $10.3 million in favorable media coverage for San Francisco
  • International sales missions which drive more than 4 million international visitors to San Francisco, equating to approximately $2.3 billion in economic impact
  • 91 new Tourism programs, and 1,000 hosted travel professionals and media through tourism FAM programs
  • Record-breaking convention bookings totaling 1,150 booked meetings, $1.1 billion in direct spending, and 2 million booked room nights
  • Dine About Town program generating more than $2.5 million in restaurant spending

...and much, much more.

Arts & Culture Travel

For our first-ever comprehensive Arts & Culture study, we surveyed 4,000 cultural travelers from San Francisco's top 10 domestic feeder markets. We discovered:

  • Cultural travelers take more trips, are somewhat younger and moderately more affluent than non-cultural travelers
  • While their interests vary, "historic sites and attractions" ranked highest among 10 arts and cultural attributes considered when selecting a destination
  • Las Vegas and Los Angeles are San Francisco's two biggest challengers, with Los Angeles showing real competition for "theater and performing arts" and "aquariums, zoos and wild animal parks"
  • More than one in four people surveyed traveled specifically to visit a garden or park, watch a live music performance and/or attend a festival or special event
  • San Francisco is rich in assets, allowing us to position the city as a cultural destination and capitalize on the varied experiences and activities cultural travelers seek

San Francisco Hotel Industry Facts

  • Hotel rooms in San Francisco (city/county limits): 33,642 (as of September 2012)
  • According to PKF Consulting there are 215 hotels in San Francisco
  • Approximately 20,000 of these rooms are within walking distance of the Moscone Center
  • Hotel Tax Rate: 14 percent
  • Hotel Occupancy Taxes and Fees — Comparative Cities

San Francisco Hotel Guest Profile

Overnight hotel guests account for more than two of every three dollars spent locally by out-of-town visitors despite representing only 1/3 of all visitors to the city (the balance stayed either in private homes with friends or relatives, stayed in hotels outside the city though San Francisco was their primary destination, or were day visitors from nearby areas).

  • Average annual household income: $118,000
  • Average spending in San Francisco (per person, per day): $240.31
  • First-time San Francisco visitors: 27.2 percent
  • Traveling with children: 17.2 percent
  • Average age: 43 years old
  • Average nights in San Francisco hotels: 3.5 nights
  • People per room: 2.0
  • Arrived by air: 69.2 percent

Source: San Francisco Visitor Profile Report (2010), published by San Francisco Travel in March 2011.

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